DVD Extras (box sets only) include:
But the achievement this time around is more of craftsmanship than writing per se, as many of Russell's quieter stories contain sharper, wittier dialogue, more poignantly-written character moments, and more engaging plot stratagems. "Doomsday" is fantastic entertainment, but not quite the great story that "The Impossible Planet" (story no. 178) or "Rise of the Cybermen" (story no. 176) are. In the end, it will have to duke it out with "School Reunion" (story no. 174) for third place in the season's rankings.
Thirdly, it makes no bones about the fact that this is Rose's last story, and raises instead some very disturbing questions about how she might achieve her exit. Very excellent.
And the show's creators remember to materialize the TARDIS properly to start the story off right. Sweet. Yeah, we're stuck with a present day Earth, England, London setting for the third adventure in a row, but with the consolation of finally being able to ditch Rose, I'll not complain, and this setting can and does manage to become the most interesting place in the universe once the various story elements start to kick in.
Davies falls back on some of his most staple elements to build his story. Once more, the Doctor is seen to sit and flip channels on the TV in the living room, delivering a montage of international news clips to get the sense that the latest threat to the neighbourhood is actually a global problem. While I might normally get tired of yet another shameless TV love-in from old T., this time there actually happens to be someone that I know in the sequence, which is the only thing that seems to make these types of montages worthwhile.
Camille Coduri is back to give the real Jackie Tyler her most substantial showing for the season. Camille's timing is excellent, making Jackie one of the all-time great comic foils of the show, with superb assists from her co-stars. Nice job.
Yvonne Hartman makes a somewhat strange character to lead people in dealing with the threats from the unknown. Thankfully all the usual boring prisoner dynamics are thrown out the window here. Yvonne's a people person, and doesn't do that. Good for her. Her role tends more towards a combination of exposition point-person and slightly threatening Doctor's foil in the early stages, where her character works very well. Later on.... not so much, for reasons I'll only go into in the In-depth Analysis version of this review. The growing legend of Torchwood suggested that it deserved better.
The list of great returning characters for this story continues.... as does my reluctance to reveal any spoilers....
We are also blessed with the presence of Freema Agyeman, this time playing the look-a-like cousin of future companion Martha Jones. Freema does an excellent job of both phases of her minor role, managing to bring a dynamic we've seen in several old classic Doctor Who stories to a new level. The on-screen representation of one of the story's key processes is once again silly though, and remains director Graeme Harper's most significant loss of marks. Exactly what is supposed to be going on here? I suspect the filmmakers aren't really thinking of that, but rather simply have frightening the audience in mind instead, and the sequence is much less believable, and therefore less frightening, because of it.
The plot's weakest point is probably in the middle of the middle act, specifically where Davies seems to be grasping at straws to find reasons why the Doctor and friends are still alive. Although the story is still working fairly well as a mystery with regards to its sci-fi / physics / enemy mythology / character motivation elements, it really doesn't provide the engaging stratagems that make such stories great. Not bad for an average outing, but other stories this season have done better.
And even here, you have to wonder if it isn't making nonsense of at least some of the techno-babble attempting to make the crossing between parallel universes a rare, pseudo-impossible, unrepeatable event. I'm not convinced. As long as we want the Doctor to step into his adventures heroically AND travel through time, we will need parallel universes and parallel histories to allow there to be stakes and consequences in the adventures, even more so when confining ourselves unnecessarily to Earth settings. While this may be only the third story in 180 to openly deal with the subject after "Inferno" (story no. 54) and "Rise of the Cybermen" (story no. 176), the latter of which helped enormously to set this story up, I predict we will see more and more parallel universe stories as Doctor Who matures with our own understanding of time, choice, the cosmos, and physics - be it quantum or otherwise.
It isn't long before the writer's real purpose reveals itself - to permanently lose Rose while giving the audience an emotionally satisfying ride. David Tennant and Billie Piper get some heavily emotional scenes to sink their teeth into, which they do with gusto. Rose's end of it is far too sappy for my tastes, not least of which because I've never been enamoured with her or her nebulous relationship with the Doctor to want to invest in it in the depth that the producers would like their audience to. And although it might be obvious why excesses of mascara and make-up are a huge mistake, and why scenes of blubbering companions are another big mistake, Rose/Piper proves definitively why the combination is a disaster. At least there is a real loss happening, preventing this from being one of those old scenes we used to get with characters who blubber over nothing significant at all. David Tennant is moving in his performance, while providing enough restraint to remain tasteful and dignified. Nice.
I was secretly pleased to finally see the back of Rose, but a bit disappointed with the way in which it affected some of the other characters. For me, that was the real sadness of the story.
After a nearly perfect emotional sign-off and satisfying concluding moment, the story failed to end where it should have ...presumably to tease us to tune in for yet another Christmas special. At times like this, I suspect Davies aims so hard for developing the female audience that he forgets what the show is supposed to be about. Uggh! I resigned myself to sitting through another dud holiday episode that couldn't think beyond domestic Earth events.
The comic timing attempted was atrociously unfunny in the little burp of a scene that forms the coda of "Doomsday". I suspect this is another of Davies' innumerable stunts that rely on an audience who recognizes the guest stars he's managed to coerce onto the show. Sadly, this adventure's exit from its highly emotional conclusion is sadly disjointed.
Season 28 Rankings:
"Doomsday" is available on DVD.
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Note: The full season sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and other extras. The smaller volumes only feature the plain episodes.
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